Feminists in the House are Fighting for ERA Ratification
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, Rep. Carolyn Maloney and a host of other members of Congress held a press conference this morning ahead of tomorrow’s vote on HJ Res. 79 to remove the arbitrary timeline put in the preamble to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
Movement leaders like Carol Jenkins from the ERA Coalition stood united behind Speaker Pelosi—including representatives from Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, YWCA, VARatifyERA, the American Association of University Women, Delta Sigma Theta, National Women’s Law Center, National Women’s Political Caucus and the League of Women Voters.
“We will observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote and the ERA is still not enshrined in the Constitution,” declared Speaker Pelosi. “As a result, women still face inequality under the law: from the wage gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and again resulting in women being underrepresented at the table. With this resolution, we take a giant step toward equality for women, progress for families and a stronger America—because we know when women succeed, America succeeds.”
“There can be no time limit on equality,” said Eleanor Smeal, FM President and publisher of Ms. “We applaud Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Chief Sponsor Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Carolyn Maloney for moving forward the resolution to remove the arbitrary time limit in the preamble to the Equal Rights Amendment. Women have fought for and waited too long for full equality. It’s time—long overdue—for the 38 states that have ratified the ERA to be recognized and for the ERA to be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The days of women working twice as hard for half as much must end.”
Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA in January, and the third to do so in the last three years, pushing the Amendment over the necessary threshold for addition to the Constitution. Longstanding efforts to remove the arbitrary timeline that was written into the preamble to the ERA, not in the text of the amendment which the states have voted to ratify, have ramped up since in Congress. The last amendment, ERA proponents will gladly remind lawmakers, was placed in the Constitution some 200 years after it was first sent to the states for ratification.
“The amendment starts with these words: ‘equality of rights under the law’ which is a simple matter of justice,” stated Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “It’s that simple.”
HJ Res. 79 is set to go to the House floor for a vote tomorrow morning, and is expected to pass. Bipartisan companion legislation in the Senate has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lisa Murakowski (R-AK).
“Our message here today is quite simple,” said Rep. Speier while holding up a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution. “We want in.”